Saturday, May 15, 2010

Heart of Gold

Okay, okay. So Kosmo has been after me to give him some press. I'll admit I've been lagging in getting the word out about the joys of having a free dog.

Randy and I should have seen the light by the time we'd had Kosmo for two months. One balmy October afternoon, Randy was outside chatting with the neighbor who owned the land parcel in front of ours. Kosmo, always the center of any gathering, jumped up to introduce himself.

"Oh, he's so cute," she said, leaning over to pet the pup. Moments later, she noticed her custom-made, gold nugget heart pendant was missing.

At first, no one suspected Kosmo. Randy helped the woman search the grassy area. No sign of the gold heart. 

"I think your puppy might have swallowed it," she suggested, noting the nugget could have come loose from its chain.    

Randy promised he would keep a look out for any sign of the gold heart. Surely Kosmo couldn't be the culprit...or could he?

Kosmo seemed his normal, playful self until a couple days later when he began to show signs of stomach distress. We took him to see our friend, Doc Cook, the vet who had given us Kosmo in the first place. With the troublesome terrier under sedation, Doc snapped some X-rays. "This isn't rocket science," he said, holding the film up to the light. There it was--a perfect heart in Kosmo's stomach!

Doc said the pendant wasn't coming out either way. We'd have to take the pup to the city to see a specialist for an endoscopic procedure. Of course our first thoughts were for little Kosmo's well-being, but then we managed to choke out, "and how much will this cost?"

The good news was that on further examination by the specialist, he discovered the foreign body seemed to making its way out of the dog, naturally. It was very close to the tail end. Rather than wait for the inevitable to occur, the vet elected to assist nature with forceps.

The heart came out, was sterilized and shipped off to its rightful owner, who was delighted to have her gold nugget locket returned. We never told her the whole story!

So much for notions about a free dog. The visit to the city vet was a mere fraction of what the procedure could have been...but still, Kosmo was well on his way to costing us plenty.

The next time you're tempted by someone offering a free puppy, you just might think twice.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Then There Were Two!

Just when we thought we were having about as much fun as we could imagine with one Jack Russell Terrier, our friends, Doc (the local vet) and his wife Patty, thought Kramer needed a playmate.

Patty had done some dog-sitting for a friend's JRT who was in the family way. When the puppies were born, her friend insisted that Doc and Patty should have their pick of puppies. Since they couldn't decide, they picked three. Of course, we had no idea that one of their picks was for us.

I'll never forget that day. It was my turn to open the video store, another hot August day, the height of tourist season. Patty walked in and said, "Surprise!" My mouth dropped open when she held up the tiniest white bundle with brown ears and a brown patch over one eye. "This is Kramer's new friend!"

I was, well, kind of speechless. Only three years earlier, Randy and I had gone to look at a JRT puppy, but only to look...and here we were, proud parents of Kramer. Life had never been the same--in a good way, of course. But two dogs? Were we a two-dog family?

"Oh, he's adorable," I told Patty. And he was...but this was a rather unexpected surprise. Besides, another JRT was definitely not in the budget. "I don't think we can afford him."

"Oh, that's no problem," Patty crooned. "He's free for being Kramer's brother!"

I tried to protest, but Patty wouldn't have any of it. I had learned you really couldn't argue with this most generous friend.

"I should really talk to Randy," I countered.

"Oh, I've already visited Randy," Patty explained. Randy later told me that Patty and the pup had found him just after he came out of the shower with only a towel wrapped around him.

"What do you think?" I asked Randy weakly. "He's free--can you believe that?"

Well, we couldn't believe it. How can one say no to a free dog? It's like the adage, don't look a gift horse in the mouth--or some such thing.

As you've probably guessed, we couldn't say no to the second JRT who came into our lives. Word got around town that we had a new attraction at Silver Star Video. We launched a "name the puppy" contest and our customers provided a wide array of ideas: Lucky, Bilbo Baggins, Grommit...but the name that stuck was on more than one entry stuffed into the box...Kosmo.

"That's it!" Randy and I both agreed. "It's the perfect name for him."

Little did we know what we were in for when we adopted Kosmo. Unlike his older brother, Kramer, who seemed to defy some of the JRT characteristics, Kosmo was textbook Jack Russell. He practically bounced off the walls. I constructed barriers out of furniture and luggage to keep him in the uncarpeted kitchen and dining room. No problem for that little guy. He climbed up and over the barricades. What a fun game!

Kosmo could care less about becoming housebroken. When Kramer was a puppy, he had one or two accidents inside and that was it. At 18 months, I began to wonder if Kosmo had a serious bladder problem. No...he was too busy exploring his surroundings to even slow down long enough to pee in one place. He would tinkle while walking across the carpet, not missing a beat to the strange drum he marched to.

Patty would ask how we were doing with Kosmo. "You can always give him back to us if he's too much trouble." Trouble? We had only begun to discover what that could mean--even if he was a free dog. We considered Patty's offer on more than one occasion!

For six years, we have been a two-dog family. I wouldn't have it any other way. Kramer and Kosmo have provided us with more entertainment and adventures than we could have possibly imagined. Stay tuned for more of "Kamikaze" (the vet's office nickname) Kosmo's wild and crazy chronicles.

Deb, Dog Mom

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Jack Russell Terriers 101

It all started when my husband Randy and I watched the movie, My Dog Skip. I fell in love at first sight with Skip, an adorable Jack Russell Terrier.

"He's the kind of dog I've always wanted," I confided to Randy. Growing up in a family with four other siblings, my parents decided pets were not an option. I've always felt slightly deprived.

To my surprise, Randy called the only breeder listed in our phone book. Yes, they did have one male puppy, a Jack Russell Terrier. Randy told her we would come to see him--but only to take a look. Becoming parents to a puppy was a major decision for us. We searched the Web for information about JRTs. The official Jack Russell Web site was less than encouraging.

These are high-strung, willful dogs with compulsive behavior, said the experts. They have a mind of their own. At times you'll laugh when you realize they've outwitted you one more time to get their way.

I'm not so sure," I lamented. "Those dogs don't sound like Skip."

But reluctantly, and against our better judgment, we went to meet this JRT puppy. That was eight years ago, and because one Jack wasn't enough for us, we decided to double the excitement with JRT #2, Kosmo. Our lives have been turned upside down and our hearts inside out with love for these tenacious little dogs.

We christened our first pup, Kramer. He needed a Hollywood name to work with us at our video store in our small (pop. 350) rural town in North Central Washington. Kramer took his job seriously, and became a town icon. We tried not to let it get us down that everyone knew Kramer, but hardly noticed us. "Is Kramer in today?" our customers asked expectantly.

Kramer even has his own story in a book of dog stories, A Prince Among Dogs. Recently, a former customer (we sold our store in 2006), approached me at our local grocery store. He said his brother had called from Idaho and wanted to know if he knew Kramer. Our friend mentioned all the people he knows by that name.

"No," his brother said. "I meant the dog Kramer. My wife has this book with a story about a dog named Kramer who lives in your town. I figured you had to know him."

I couldn't stop smiling about that one. Only in a small town! But that's how Jack Russell Terriers are--small dogs with huge personalities. I hope you'll stay tuned for more of our JRT's adventures and Kramer's homespun wisdom. There's literally never a dull moment with them.

Kramer says: Forget the Groundhog... I'm ready for spring!